As far as I understand it, the implementation of voting is left up to the individual states in the USA. On the other hand, federal legislation and rulings by the Supreme Court have certainly affected how votes are conducted.

What aspects of voting are left entirely up to the states? What aspects of voting is the federal government allowed to control?

  • Are you asking about absolute/constitutional limits on federal control of elections, or about current law, that is parts that the federal government could control if they passed a law to do so, but have not so far?
    – divibisan
    May 14 at 22:35
  • The absolute limits would probably be an answerable question. Asking about possible laws would be too broad. May 15 at 1:41
  • I was thinking of Asking "Do Americans have the right to vote?". (This is included in the constitution of many countries). May 16 at 16:34

Let's start with the Constitution Article 1, Section 4, Clause 1

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

Congress has a pretty good page on this

To accomplish the ends under this clause, Congress may adopt the statutes of the states and enforce them by its own sanctions. It may punish a state election officer for violating his duty under a state law governing congressional elections. It may, in short, use its power under this clause, combined with the Necessary and Proper Clause, to regulate the times, places, and manner of electing Members of Congress so as to fully safeguard the integrity of the process; it may not, however, under this clause, provide different qualifications for electors than those provided by the states.

Under US v Classic, Congress can regulate primaries as well.

It's unclear where that line stops, though. Courts haven't restricted the Federal government from doing too many things. Generally states can still

  1. Draw their own district lines
  2. Set times for primary elections
  3. Establish the rules for voting (subject to the Voting Rights Act). This includes rules like registration, days to vote, places to vote, etc.
  • Just to clarify, since I’m not sure of this: those 3 things are up to states because Congress hasn’t chosen to regulate them, right?
    – divibisan
    May 15 at 4:29
  • I was hoping that an answer might enumerate those aspects of the voting process that "are left entirely up to the states"? Are there any? (one might argue that districting is not a voting process, and that primaries are a creature of political parties to block otherwise qualified candidates --- maybe we need a clearer definition of "voting process"
    – BobE
    Jun 2 at 3:07
  • @BobE The catch on this is the TL;DR could be written as "The states can do as they see fit, except when Congress says otherwise". So no state can make it illegal for blacks to vote (per the Voting Rights Act). But states can set days and times for voting (before the Federal deadlines)
    – Machavity
    Jun 2 at 3:26

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